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Non-Fiction in Review: Caroline Myss's Sacred Contracts

Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential -- by Caroline Myss
Three Rivers Press (CA); 1st edition (January 28, 2003) ISBN: 0609810111, 442 pp.

Who hasn't wondered what their life purpose is? Like many Goddess women, I continue to explore many sources of spiritual wisdom to learn basic truths and to supplement the available Goddess literature. One of my book groups slogged through Sacred Contracts with open minds and an inquiring spirit.

Having read Myss's other books and having listened to much of her audio material, I believe Myss is a gifted and original thinker. Yet I have mixed feelings about her works, and found this book particularly hard to grasp.

Caroline Myss is a religious scholar and a medical intuitive who has done thousands of readings with people, intuiting how their history and attitudes have affected their biology. Sacred Contracts is written out of her experience with these readings and her years of Catholic education.

The capital letter "M" in Medusa scriptyss is undeniably Judeo-Christian in her education and beliefs, and even when she claims to be including other philosophies and religions, the Judeo-Christian bias comes through. Her examples of great people who accepted and embraced their sacred contracts are Jesus, Mohammed, and Abraham. Although the choice of these well-known (to many) figures makes the point, I wish Myss could have come up with at least one example of a woman who lived her life in accordance with divinity.

What is a sacred contract? According to Myss, before we incarnate we negotiate a contract with a team of "masters" (sic) and guardians to set up the circumstances of our life. At this "heavenly" level, the masters and we decide on the life lesson(s) we are to learn to develop our souls and set up our life circumstances accordingly. This intriguing idea of determining our higher purpose has existed at least since Plato and is well accepted in some form with many proponents of new thought, including many Goddess women.

The capital letter "M" in Medusa scriptyss claims that in co-creating our sacred contract, we work with three Guardians, that of necessity, the guardian who controls our destiny; of choice, who works with us around our core power; and the guardian of compassion. This sounds suspiciously akin to the three Norns in Germanic mythology, doesn't it?

Archetype means original pattern, and the archetypal realm is that place of universal patterns of consciousness.

The capital letter "M" in Medusa scriptyss claims that as her abilities as a medical intuitive developed, she came to observe various archetypes accompanying each individual. Archetype means original pattern, and the archetypal realm is that place of universal patterns of consciousness. Myss believes that we incarnate with a team of archetypes who exist to guide us through our sacred contracts. Myss claims everybody works with 12 archetypes (How did she come up with that number?) throughout life, and everybody shares the same basic archetypes of child, prostitute, saboteur, and victim. The book presents instructions to determine the remaining eight archetypes who work with you. The four basic archetypes (child, prostitute, saboteur, and victim) represent some of our greatest challenges and ways that we fail to work with divinity on the earth plane. Despite the negative connotations associated with the names for the four basic archetypes, Myss claims that all archetypes are neutral and it is our challenge to work with them in a positive, growthful way. My book group, however, were extremely reluctant to believe that prostitutes, saboteurs, and victims were helpful or had any part in their contracts.

As a student of human nature and a lover of myth, I find the concepts of archetypes to be ever fascinating. Myss lists over 75 archetypes in the appendix of the book, and this section is very well done, with a description of each archetype, a list of synonyms, and examples in movies and literature depicting each archetype.

The capital letter "M" in Medusa scriptyss seems to take delight in mixing unrelated systems of theological and metaphysical thought; for example, overlaying the Kabbalah and the seven Christian sacraments on the seven chakras in her book, Anatomy of the Spirit. My reading group and I found the Sacred Contracts method for determining our ruling archetypes to be complicated and trying. Myss takes astrology's natal wheel of 12 houses that influence different areas of our lives and superimposes her archetype idea on top of this; a process she calls "Reinventing the Wheel." Although I followed Myss's instructions carefully, I did not find the end result to be very helpful. I think that one would have to be a true Carolyn Myss devotee -- believing that Myss's truth is the truth -- to consistently and thoroughly work with this system. By the time I got to the chapter suggesting that one use this cumbersome process as divination to provide guidance in one's every day life, I became truly fed up. It seems to me that this author tries too hard to reinvent and mix systems that already exist. I couldn't determine why I would want to go through this cumbersome, confusing process when I already practice and understand tarot. Perhaps if I worked with the Myss system for the 20 years I've worked with tarot, her system would seem more reasonable.

Despite my frustration with this book, I always find many intriguing gems of truth buried beneath Myss's inventions. Because she has studied mysticism for many years, Myss has a unique and valuable sense of the human relationship to divinity. I found her ideas to act with love and not to be attached to the outcome to be valuable in my relationship to Goddess.

The capital letter "M" in Medusa scriptyss says:

"In working with thousands of people through the years, I've discovered that the sure way to find your path -- whether by understanding your overall Contract, a particular relationship or event, or an ailment that you want to heal -- is to keep your attention on reaching your highest potential. Once you have made this crucial decision every other decision in your life, from what kind of diet to follow to the manner in which you nurture your spiritual life, takes on a distinctive shape." (361)

If I was looking for a particularly neat explanation of cosmology and my life in this book, I didn't find it (Darn!). Yet, I found many rich ideas to contemplate and would recommend the book for any woman with the patience to read a 400-page book to explore a few intriguing ideas

Graphics Credits

  • Book Cover, Sacred Contracts
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